Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Mid-Week Post

On this Christmas Eve...

The Ontario government has decided to repay the $10,000 it took from taxpayers to erase hard drives and will take away again in the new year:

The Ontario Liberal Party has decided to reimburse taxpayers the $10,000 Peter Faist was allegedly paid to wipe government computers.

"To ensure no tax dollars are expended for work performed in the office of the former premier in relation to the matters currently under investigation by Ontario Provincial Police, the Ontario Liberal Party executive council voted (Monday) to cover the cost of a January 2013 invoice from Mr. Faist to the Liberal Caucus Service Bureau," Zita Astravas, a spokesman for Premier Kathleen Wynne, said in a statement Tuesday.

"The payment of these funds is in no way intended as a prejudgment or comment upon the findings of the ongoing police investigation - it is to ensure no tax dollars were expended for the work performed."

(Sidebar: oh, like Scrooge, it isn't!)

ISIS claimed it has shot down a Jordanian jet:

Islamic State militants captured a Jordanian pilot after his warplane crashed in Syria while carrying out airstrikes Wednesday, making him the first foreign military member to fall into the extremists' hands since an international coalition launched its bombing campaign against the group months ago.

Images of the pilot being pulled out of a lake and hustled away by masked jihadis underscored the risks for the U.S. and its Arab and European allies in the air campaign.

The capture — and the potential hostage situation — presented a nightmare scenario for Jordan, which vowed to continue its fight against the group that has overrun large parts of Syria and Iraq and beheaded foreign captives.

Iraqi Christians gather for Christmas Mass:

Baghdad’s embattled Christian community worshipped defiantly Wednesday night at Christmas Eve mass.

The pews filled at Baghdad’s Sacred Heart church, as people remembered the darkest year in memory.

Blast walls shielded the church and seven policeman flanked the outside of the house of worship, in an indication of the government's fear of an attack on the religious groups by jihadists who consider them non-believers. ...

(Sidebar: that is not due to Islamism just as attacks in France have nothing to do with Islamism.)

The worshippers paid tribute to the thousands of Christians displaced this summer in northern Iraq when Islamic State seized the city of Mosul in June and in August pushed on toward Iraqi Kurdistan, over-running Christian towns on the Nineveh plain.

“The recent conditions have left us with a bit of sadness for our brethren, be they Christian or non-Christian, those who were displaced and harmed," Father Thair Abdul Masih told Reuters.
"Christianity is the religion of peace and we pray for these people to return to their homes. We pray for all evil to vanish,” he said.

Some had personal stories of those displaced this summer in northern Iraq, who have scattered to Iraqi Kurdistan, Turkey and Lebanon.

“They live in misery… yet we still exchange blessings and congratulations of Christmas and the New Year," said Fadi Rafaat, 27, an assistant to the priest. "We celebrate the happiness of Christmas, but deep inside we carry the sadness of Iraq."

Rioting in time for the holidays:

A white policeman shot dead a black man brandishing a gun at a suburban St. Louis gasoline station overnight, police said on Wednesday, igniting violence reminiscent of riots over the police killing of an unarmed black teenager in nearby Ferguson.
Black officials in Missouri were at pains to distinguish the death of a suspect they said had a gun from cases where unarmed black men were killed by police officers, incidents that led to protests across the United States and bitter debate about how American police forces treat non-white citizens.

Why would there be pains? What is the life expectancy of anyone who pulls a gun on a cop after the commission of a robbery?

And now, some Christmas joy:

Even though tensions are high between North Korea and the United States, it looks like that’s not stopping Santa from delivering Christmas cheer to the girls and boys of North Korea. At least according to the competing internet “Santa trackers” who dutifully map out St. Nick’s progress each Christmas Eve ...

"Silent Night" in the original German:

Merry Christmas to all.

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